Retail payments: a changing European landscape

The landscape for retail payments in Europe is going through a period of considerable upheaval due to technological developments and entry by new providers, supported by regulatory changes. What exactly are these changes, and what are their implications for the competitive dynamics and market outcomes in retail payments?

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Taking Britain to net zero: Ofgem’s decarbonisation action plan

On 3 February Ofgem, the energy regulator for Great Britain, published its decarbonisation action plan to support the UK in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Outlining Ofgem’s role in facilitating decarbonisation, the plan lists the trade-offs faced and nine actions that the regulator will take. We look at what the plan says and its implications

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Consumer protection in the online economy

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument en Markt, ACM) has recently published guidelines for online firms and other interested parties, indicating its view on which online business practices are allowed within the boundaries of consumer protection laws— and which are not. Annemieke Tuinstra, Senior Economist in ACM’s Chief Economist Team, discusses the economic and psychological concepts behind the guidelines

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Home advantage? Who wins in multi-sided platform competition?

What do Google, Mastercard and Amazon have in common with early auction houses or the traditional village matchmaker? One answer is that they are all multi-sided platforms (MSPs). Much has been done in the last decade to try to understand the economics of such platforms. Yet current research is still uncovering new findings about pricing, multi-homing and the competitive dynamics of platforms—some of which can seem counterintuitive

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Are competition appeals taking too long?

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has asked the government for additional powers to investigate firms and intervene more quickly in markets. At the same time, it wants to limit the scope for affected parties to appeal its decisions. Mark Friend, Partner and head of the London antitrust group at Allen & Overy LLP, considers whether the CMA’s arguments for reform are convincing and supported by the evidence from previous cases

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How could ownership affect performance?

In the decade since the global financial crisis, Western Europe has seen increased calls for changes in the ownership of essential service assets. For example, during the UK’s 2019 general election, the Labour Party campaigned for the nationalisation of key strategic industries such as energy, water and telecoms. We ask how ownership can affect operational incentives and outcomes, and explore the implications for current ownership models and independent regulation

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Consumer vulnerability: making sense of this new ground for regulatory intervention

In February 2019, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a major study on consumer vulnerability, which puts vulnerability firmly on the agenda of regulators and firms. Peter Andrews, Oxera Senior Adviser, considers what is driving this focus on vulnerability, what its implications are, and the principles under which the concept of vulnerability would lead to intervention

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Investing, insurance or gambling?

The distinction between investment, insurance and gambling is an essential one for policymakers and regulators. At the most basic level it is easy to see the differences between these products. But is it possible to extend the theoretical distinctions to more complex products and so give consumers clearer guidance? Fod Barnes, Senior Adviser at the UK Payment Systems Regulator, and previously a Senior Adviser at Oxera, explores the issues

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Regulation and policy in Italy: don’t throw away the baby with the bath water!

The Italian water sector is undergoing a period of significant change. The sector does not require radical intervention in its ownership structure to improve investment levels and quality standards, but rather a package of measures to improve the management model and enhance independent regulation. How can tariff regulation be extended nationwide, and how can existing industry fragmentation be overcome?

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Digital platform regulation: What are the proposals across Europe?

Calls to ‘do something’ about tech giants are getting louder. Some suggest that breaking them up is the best way to go, but such strong intervention is absent from the most developed regulatory proposals seen so far. Taking into account recent prominent reports from (or for) the European Commission and several national competition authorities, what are the main proposals on the table, and are they plausible?

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Conduct risk management—high five?

Financial services providers around Europe are subject to clear expectations from regulators regarding conduct risk (or ‘the risk of misconduct’ that can cause poor consumer outcomes or undermine market stability or competition). What are these expectations, and how can providers meet them? In our experience, managing conduct risk requires a new toolkit based on behavioural economics, business model analysis, machine learning, competition economics, and good governance.

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